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13 Aug 2021

Lightning strikes 100-year-old tree at Ben Lomond

Written by James Hutchinson, Ranger
A close-up view of the forked upper branches of an oak tree. A white scar runs all the way down the left branch.
Lightning strike damage to an oak tree at Ben Lomond
Following a recent thunderstorm, our ranger discovered some damage to one of the oak trees at Ben Lomond.

Adding to the dramatic landscape of Ben Lomond, we had an incredible thunderstorm over the mountain recently, which saw multiple lightning strikes.

A lightning strike travels at over 220,000mph and can heat the air around it to 25,000°C, five times hotter than the surface of the sun!

Unfortunately, a conduit for a forked lightning strike was one of our 100-year-old oak trees. The electrical charge travelled just beneath the bark of the tree along a layer of sap and water. As the electricity passed along this layer, it superheated the moisture, producing rapid expansion and causing the bark to literally tear off the trunk. We found fragments of the oak up to 10 metres away – a reminder of the tremendous power of nature.

As there is only damage to one side of the tree, we’re hopeful it will survive. And what a scar it’ll have to show for it!

Caring for this woodland at Ben Lomond forms part of our crucial conservation work at this much-loved place. This summer our team have been busy with projects to protect against vegetation erosion, widening and improving the woodland path, as well as enhancing the main path to the summit.

We wouldn’t be able to do this work without the support of our members and supporters of the Footpath Fund. We’re delighted that people are able to enjoy Scotland’s beautiful wild spaces once again. Our famous peaks and landscapes are attracting more visitors than ever, and we want to ensure that these landscapes remain protected. As a charity, we rely on donations to achieve this.

I love this place, I leave no trace

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